Last week, on May 30, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) hosted a briefing on the "Comprehensive Solider Fitness" program in Washington, D.C. to educate lawmakers and their staff about the US Army's new effort to reduce PTSD and other psychological issues by promoting "mental resilience."
"We have lost increasing numbers of troops and veterans to suicide in recent years, following the long-running wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Napolitano said. "This innovative program aims to help our troops maintain good mental health and prevent depression, PTSD, and other mental issues."
"This program allows us to raise the level of resilience before things go wrong," said Master Sergeant Richard Gonzales. "We see it as training, not medical treatment. Just like we have physical training, we must also have training for the mind to improve psychological strength."
Gonzales explained that in his 26 year career, fractured relationships and alienation were most often the cause of depression leading to suicide. To demonstrate the program, he and his fellow army trainers taught the audience the skill of "active-constructive responding," which is a way of communicating that helps build trusting relationships between troops and fosters good mental health.
The briefing was the final Congressional Mental Health Caucus event for May Mental Health Awareness Month, and the third annual training for legislative staff held by the Caucus.